Senior Earns Prestigious National Merit Scholarship

Peter McLeod graduated with the rest of his classmates on Monday, but he’s not yet done earning awards. This week, he learned he had advanced from being a National Merit Finalist to a National Merit Scholar.

Principal Jon Baffico and Saint Viator High School administrators were notified of the news Thursday from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, which stated: “Peter J. McLeod is being offered the National Merit University of Alabama Scholarship. Pursuant to an agreement with National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC), this college-sponsored Merit Scholarship® award is funded by The University of Alabama for exclusive use at that institution."

“It is with immense pride that we recognize Peter as a National Merit Scholar,” Principal Jon Baffico said. “This is a truly remarkable achievement, a testament to his dedication, hard work and intellectual curiosity. Peter is an inspiration to his peers, and we are thrilled to celebrate this well-deserved honor.”

Peter was among the 2,500 Merit Scholars who were chosen from a talent pool of more than 15,000 outstanding finalists in the 2024 National Merit Scholarship Program. These National Merit $2,500 Scholarship winners are the finalists in each state judged to have the strongest combination of accomplishments, skills and potential for success in rigorous college studies. 

According to officials with the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, these Scholars were selected by a committee of college admissions officers and high school counselors, who appraised a substantial amount of information submitted by both the finalists and their high schools.

Criteria included their academic record, including difficulty level of subjects studied and grades earned; scores from the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®); contributions and leadership in school and community activities; an essay written by the finalist; and a recommendation written by a high school official.

During his years at Saint Viator, Peter was a Querbes Scholar and a member of the mathematics honor society, Mu Alpha Theta. He was captain of the Scholastic Bowl team and was a student leader at last summer’s Service & Song Camp. In addition, he and his twin brother, Finn, are both Eagle Scouts.

Just being named as National Merit Finalists is a huge accomplishment. Peter and his classmates John Hutchinson, Omar Salinas and Sophia Stuberg were named finalists in March. Consequently, they were among the highest-scoring entrants in the state, which is less than 1% of high school seniors.

Another 10 of their classmates were named last fall as National Merit Commended Scholars. They included: Ranya Alkass, Matthew Casale, Chase Dymon, Bridget Kopp, David Koziol, Zachary Kull, Jacob Lund, Maeve McClellan, Charles O’Connor, and Michael O’Connor. 
"For our students to be recognized for exceptional academic promise affirms what Saint Viator strives to accomplish as an institution,” Mr. Baffico added, “that is to help students reach their full potential academically, socially, emotionally and spiritually."
Located in Arlington Heights, IL, Saint Viator High School is a private, co-ed, Catholic school for grades 9-12. Students benefit from a challenging academic program, fine and performing arts, competitive athletics, and a wide selection of extracurricular activities.